April 12, 2012
Of debt and degrees: Utah students avoid borrowing, but at what cost?
(Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune) — During a typical week, Realtor Dan Smuin drives all over the Salt Lake Valley showing homes, like a 5,000-square-foot place up Emigration Canyon with five bedrooms and lovely views of the path followed by 70,000 Zion-bound Mormon settlers a century and a half ago.
But he also spends up to 18 hours in a University of Utah classroom.
He doesn’t get much sleep and doesn’t socialize on campus, but he is almost finished with a degree in human development and family studies. Smuin will be among the 5,513 U. undergraduates receiving bachelor’s degrees this year — eight years after he began his studies at Salt Lake Community College. He worked 40 to 60 hours a week the whole time and is completing college without a penny of student debt.
“It would have been nice to not work,” said Smuin, who initially could not qualify for financial aid because of his parents’ income.
Unsaddled with college loans, however, Smuin is fortunate.
U.S. student debt topped $1 trillion this year and surpassed the nation’s consumer debt, triggering an outcry for relief and a stop to relentless tuition hikes.
By working long hours, Smuin and many other Utah college students are avoiding this burden. But campus administrators say that may not be a good thing if students are taking longer to graduate.
“A problem in Utah is we have a huge number of students working even though tuition is low,” Commission of Higher Education William Sederburg said. “You’re better off to go into debt and have a real college experience and not getting distracted on things that delay graduation.” More…Posted by: psilberman